Saturday, August 17, 2019

Opening day CNE 2019

Toronto's annual mega fair returns to Exhibition Place from August 16 till September 2 with a lot of old and a little bit of new - but that's how traditions are made. I stopped going to the EX for a long time after the closing day riots (or just riots in general), but have returned for the last couple of years to see the grand old lady again. Some of my favourite traditions have disappeared this year, such as the water show in the harbour and ribfest in Bandshell Park, but it is still fun to wander the Canadian National Exhibition grounds looking for ice cream waffle sandwiches, enjoying adult beverages in the Muskoka zone/Beach Bar while watching buskers and hopping on the Sky Ride.
Midway rides
Hamsters were very popular prizes for 2019
Giant crowds surrounded the horizontal bar challenge. You have to hang by your hands for two minutes to win a gigantic prize. Nobody we saw could do it but it was exciting to watch them try.

Parking on the grass in adjacent municipal parkland was banned in 2013 so there is very little available parking in the area, so take public transit. The GO Transit Lakeshore Line stops include Exhibition Place, otherwise take TTC, uber, lyft, taxi, bike or walk.
Godzilla is now off the waterfront and in the Rose Garden behind the Bandshell

Opening day ceremonies started at 10am and other special events included the return of the Indoor Lantern Festival, 50 Greatest Photographs of National Geographic, a Silent Disco and a Burton Cummings concert at the Bandshell. New events or exhibits for 2019 had the EX Race extreme sports competition in place of the old parkour exhibition and Raccoons Reimagined around the Princess Margaret fountain. CNE Woodstock Weekend August 17-18 concerts will pay tribute to the 50th anniversary of Woodstock "with musical tributes to the iconic artists who performed at the Festival including: Janis Joplin, Creedence Clearwater, Sly and the Family Stone, The Band, Crosby Stills Nash and Young (Neil Young), Paul Butterfield Blues Bands, Santana, The Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. Joni Mitchell will also be featured since she wrote a song performed at Woodstock."
Gaming Garage
This year I actually found the CNE Gaming Garage powered by AMD which was a hit with the computer gaming/esports and arcade crowd. The garage was moved to opening day weekend timeslot. Games and tournament play featured Rainbow Six Siege, League of Legends and Community Overwatch, Pinball and Dungeon & Dragons. They also had a stage with keynote speakers, panel discussions and prizes.
National Geographic 50 Greatest Photographs

Shipping containers were placed in Bandshell Park for the Under $6 in the 6 with food specials that are much less expensive than the booze you can purchase in the shipping container bars. Opening day included some kinks as they had to wait for the food inspector to open and two places didn't open for some reason. Special foods around the CNE were frozen spaghetti ice cream and pickle lemonade splash and then your typical deep fried Mars bars, etc.
Legend of the Silk Road Indoor Lantern Festival

See more of the EX after the jump.
Colourful giraffe puppets
CNE EX Race extreme sports competition
On the Sky Ride
Raccoons Reimagined
More of midway at night

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